SUNDAY NOON, 13TH UPDATE: As predicted fireworks blazed at the Fourth Of July box office which headed to $229M domestic through Sunday (+16% from last year) and a new 3-day weekend record for the holiday. But there was only bad news for Disney’s #2 too-expensive The Lone Ranger (3,904 theaters) which opened disastrously Wednesday, remained weak on Thursday, did only $10.6M Friday, and flatlined for $10.7M Saturday. That’s a very disappointing 5-day holiday of $48.9M max. The two-quadrant Western won’t cover its high $215M-$250M cost despite this holiday’s 4x multiple. The Johnny Depp-Armie Hammer starrer’s domestic cume is way below Disney’s initial lowball projection of $65M and the 3rd big-budget bomb of Summer 2013. (Two Sony pics – White House Down and After Earth- also were expensive bombs.) As Deadline was first to report, the studio in August 2011 shut down Lone Ranger for six months after the budget ballooned out of control. Too bad Disney didn’t just scrap the pic altogether. Depp’s worldwide popularity may, repeat may, help overseas where oaters usually don’t excel.Lone Ranger opened day and date in 30% of the foreign landscape but only 4 big markets: Italy and Russia (released July 2) and Australia and Korea (July 4). It made $24.3M internationally for a global cume of $73.2M through Sunday. Ouch!

Far different result for the #1 movie, Illumination Entertainment’s and Universal’s Despicable Me 2 (3,957 theaters) which only cost a very reasonable $76M. It  is the #1 film in the world this weekend, opening atop the U.S. and Canadian box office with a record-breaking estimated gross of $142.1M. The 3D toon posted the biggest 5-day opening for an animated film and the top 3-day animated opening in July (earning $82.5M). Internationally, its gross widened to 6,849 dates in 45 territories to total $151.1M. The combined global cume is $293.2M. This marks Universal’s second biggest international opening weekend ever behind Fast & Furious 6 ($161M). Day after day pic kept overperforming in North America for the 5-day holiday. (“We stood here watching Rentrak and wondering, ‘Could it be?’” a Uni exec tells me.) The new worldwide cumulative easily passed $200M Saturday on its way to $300M through Sunday. Not only is DM2 performing well ahead of the original film globally but also on par with such toon franchise megahits as Toy Story 3, Ice Age 4, Madagascar 3 and Shrek 4.  And the sequel’s opening is among the top animated openings of all time in every market. Pic has 18 more territories to open over the next few months.

Kevin Hart’s concert pic Let Me Explain (876 theaters) from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment made $3.7M Friday and the studio projects $17.4M for the 5-day holiday. It’s yet another surprisingly strong debut from the standup comedian’s rabid and rapidly growing fanbase in the cheapest film and smallest theater count of the Fourth Of July field from major studios. Studio harnessed Hart’s social media network to plug the pic.

g'per
1 year
The MARKETING department?! Riiiight. Because the movies themselves couldn't possibly have earned the their massive revenues on...
Get Real
1 year
Where are they?! They're at your local movie theater, Hamster. You can start with every superhero movie...
Jay
1 year
I've seen Shane. Maybe it's because I read the book first, but I was disappointed by the...

More analysis below. Here’s the Top Ten estimates:

1. Despicable Me 2 (Universal) NEW [Runs 3,957]
Wednesday $35.0M, Thursday $24.5M, Friday $30.5M, Saturday $29.6M
3-Day Weekend $82.5M, Domestic Cume $142.1M
International Cume $151.1M, Worldwide Total $293.1M

2. The Lone Ranger (Disney) NEW [Runs 3,904]
Wednesday $9.6M, Thursday $9.8M, Friday $10.6M, Saturday $10.7M
3-Day Weekend $29.4M, Domestic Cume $48.9M
International Cume $24.3M, Worldwide Total $73.2M

3. The Heat (Fox) Week 1 [Runs 3,181]
Wednesday $5.2M, Thursday $6.3M, Friday $8.6M, Saturday $9.3M
3-Day Weekend $25.0M, Domestic Cume $86.3M
International Cume $6.1M, Worldwide Total $92.4M

4. Monsters University (Pixar/Disney) Week 2 [Runs 4,004]
Wednesday $5.4M, Thursday $5.2M, Friday $7.1M, Saturday $7.0M
3-Day Weekend $19.5M, Domestic Cume $216.1M
International Cume $184.4M, Worldwide Total $400.5M

5. World War Z (Paramount) Week 2 [Runs 3,607]
Wednesday $3.9M, Thursday $4.3M, Friday $6.3M, Saturday $6.7M
3-Day Weekend $18.2M, Domestic Cume $158.7M
International Cume $207.4M, Worldwide Total $366.1M

6. White House Down (Columbia/Sony) Week 1 [Runs 3,222)
Wednesday $2.6M, Thursday $3.5M, Friday $4.5M, Saturday $5.1M
3-Day Weekend $13.5M, Domestic Cume $50.4M
International Cume $16.4M, Worldwide Total $67.8M

7. Man Of Steel (Legendary/Warner Bros) Week [Runs 2,965]
Wednesday $2.3M, Thursday $3.0M, Friday $3.9M, Saturday $4.2M
3-Day Weekend $11.4M, Domestic Cume $271.2M
International Cume $315.6M, Worldwide Total $586.8M

8. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (Summit/Lionsgate) NEW [Runs 876]
Wednesday $4.7M, Thursday $2.5M, Friday $3.7M, Saturday $3.6M
3-Day Weekend $10.1M, Domestic Cume $17.4M

9. This Is The End (Columbia/Sony) Week 4 [Runs 2,104)
Wednesday $1.2M, Thursday $1.1M, Friday $2.0M, Saturday $2.0M
3-Day Weekend $5.8M, Domestic Cume $85.5M
International Cume $6.1M, Worldwide Total $90.6M

10. Now You See Me (Summit/Lionsgate) Week 6 [Runs 1,606]
Wednesday $497K, Thursday $673K, Friday $955K, Saturday $1.0M
3-Day Weekend $2.7M, Domestic Cume $110.4M
International Cume $59.1M, Worldwide Total $169.5M

With an ‘A’ CinemaScore, Despicable Me 2 opened to “an incredible start” according to a Uni exec. “It’s quite an accomplishment.” You betcha. Pic began with a huge $4.7 million Tuesday night in 2,563 theaters from late shows. (Monsters University grossed $3M.) And it set records Wednesday when it went wide  - the 3rd highest opening day ever for an animated feature, the 8th highest Wednesday opening ever, and the biggest Wednesday opening of all-time for Universal. Minions also took over the world box office grossing $65.9M through Wednesday from only 11 markets. This 2nd installment reteams directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud with screenwriting duo Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul. Old and new voiceover talent include Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, and Benjamin Bratt. But of course the sequel’s big draws are those lovable Minions who in the original toon were given form and function by Coffin & Renaud to underscore the comedy surrounding Gru’s madcap mayhem. Reportedly for the first pic, the pair looked at previous peons like Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and the Jawas from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. This time around, the scripters just wrote as many Minions scenes as they could squeeze into the sequel. And in 2014 the little yellow guys even get their own stand alone Minion movie with Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm already attached. Don’t forget to watch the end credits for the Minion wack-pack’s 3D demo.

The Lone Ranger received a ‘B+’ CinemaScore from audiences who obviously disagreed with the lousy reviews given the movie by professional critics. But the word of mouth didn’t help. Exit polling showed the movie skewed 56% male and 66% age 25 and older. Meanwhile complaints pour in about how this was a Disney film with seriously inappropriate content for families. One head-scratcher is where all that budget money went. Apparently to above the line costs like stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer and director Gore Verbinski (and his shooting excesses) and producer Bruckheimer and the 3 credited screenwriters Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio. Disney first announced the project five years ago (when Dick Cook was chairman of Walt Disney Studios) and it was always a risky bet since young moviegoers have largely stayed away from Westerns and have little familiarity with the masked man or his sidekick. Disney was clearly hoping to replicate the success it had with Pirates Of The Caribbean by going back to the same trilogy filmmaking team of Bruckheimer, Verbinski, and Depp. But big budget Westerns Wild Wild West, Cowboys And AliensJonah Hex all flopped while the Coen Brothers’ True Grit reboot cost only $43M and made major coin. After a year of bad buzz, Lone Ranger opened Tuesday night with an unimpressive $2M for late shows through midnights. Then Fandango saw even more handwriting on the wall Wednesday morning when Despicable Me 2 was scooping up 71% of ticket sales and Lone Ranger only 12%.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment received an ‘A’ CinemaScore from audiences and opened solidly despite only playing in 876 dates Wednesday (including $1.1M from Tuesday late shows). This pic is a follow-up to Hart’s 2011 hit Laugh At My Pain and was filmed live at NYC’s Madison Square Garden as part of the #1 urban comedy tour of all time generating over $32.7M in ticket sales. The film is produced by Codeblack Films, a Lionsgate company, and HartBeat Productions. It cost $2.5 million underwritten by Hart, and Summit paid no advance and only reasonably for marketing. Pic’s $5,422 per screen average Wednesday was the 2nd highest average among all films.